Major Minor Surgery
No Ifs, Ands or Butts

Old Things

I use my flour sifter once a year when I make my Thanksgiving pumpkin bread. I pulled it out of the cupboard the other day because pumpkin bread freezes well, and it is one of the few Thanksgiving must-haves I can make in advance.

When I took that pathetic sifter out of the closet, I thought about how long I have had it. My roommates and I bought it in Woolworth's fifty years ago when we set up our first apartment. It's old. So is my ironing board, purchased for that same apartment. Our Woolworth's plastic china cracked and leaked in the first year, a foolishly cheap investment. But not the sifter or the ironing board.

Since my recent use of the sifter, I have been noticing how old other things around our house are. I have three plastic clothes-pin-like devices to hang laundry over the bath tub when I travel. At home, they hang on a hook on the back of my bathroom door. I bought them fifty-one years ago for my first trip to Europe, and although they've turned yellowish, they still work.

My sewing box contains spool after spool of thread bought over the years. Some are inherited from my mother. I can't even think about how old they are, but I can tell hers from mine because hers are wooden, and mine are plastic. In the top drawer in my bathroom is a nail brush with a yellow plastic handle that has my maiden name written on a piece of adhesive tape I put across it when I went to overnight camp sixty years ago.

Of course, I have photos that span generations, but they are in a neglected box under the eaves of the third floor. My flour sifter, my plastic clothespin-like hooks and my nail brush, however, are still useful.

And, more or less, so am I.


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